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Pumas fullback Mallia suspended for two weeks for foul play after ‘reckless’ and ‘dangerous’ challenge on Williams

Pumas fullback Mallia suspended for two weeks for foul play after ‘reckless’ and ‘dangerous’ challenge on Williams
Bok scrumhalf Grant Williams was stretchered off after a huge collision with Juan Cruz Mallia. (Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images)

Despite escaping any sanction during last weekend’s Rugby Championship Test between the Springboks and Pumas, Argentina fullback Juan Cruz Mallia has been suspended.

Argentina fullback Juan Cruz Mallia has received a two-week suspension for his reckless challenge on Springbok scrumhalf Grant Williams just seconds into last Saturday’s Test match at Ellis Park.

Mallia chased the kick-off and launched himself at full speed in an attempted charge down. Williams managed to get a kick away and his clearance grazed Mallia’s thigh, who was in mid-air at high velocity at the time.

The Pumas fullback’s hip caught Williams on the side of the head with huge force, knocking the Bok halfback unconscious before he hit the ground.

Irish referee Andrew Brace did not award a penalty and believed it was a “rugby incident” and that Mallia was “committed” when he attempted a charge down. Mallia played on as the Boks hung on to win 22-21.

Juan Cruz Mallia

Pumas fullback Juan Cruz Mallia and Bok counterpart Willie le Roux clash during during the Rugby Championship match at Ellis Park on 29 July. Mallia was lucky to stay n the field after a reckless challenge on Grant Williams. (Photo: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images)

The incident didn’t look good in real time and it was surprising that the Pumas player escaped without so much as a penalty during the match.

Brace was operating within the framework and protocols laid out in the process, which states that if he believed no “foul play” occurred then there is no sanction. Brace clearly didn’t believe Mallia’s action to fall within the foul play definition, which was surprising.

But the Pumas man was cited after the match and the judicial hearing was less forgiving than the Irish referee. Not for the first time have referees been exposed by subsequent judicial hearings.

Reckless and dangerous

“The judicial committee considered the act of foul play was reckless, with a high degree of danger and had a considerable impact on the victim player,” the South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby (Sanzaar) judgement read.

The Sanzaar Judicial Committee of Nigel Hampton KC (Chairman), David Croft and Ofisa Tonu’u assessed the case.

In their findings, the committee stated: “Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including from the player, the Argentinian coach and the match referee, as well as submissions from his legal representative, Aaron Lloyd, the Foul Play Review Committee upheld the citing under Law 9.11.

“The Committee considered all relevant factors of World Rugby’s Head Contact Process and sanctioning table.

“But given the evidence from both the referee and the coach as to how successful charge downs of kicks are viewed by match officials and as to how coaching of players is conducted as a consequence, the Committee decided that a mid-range sanction would be wholly disproportionate to the player’s fault and that the foul play merited a low-range entry point of 2 weeks.”

Mallia will miss this Saturday’s World Cup warm-up between Argentina and Springboks in Buenos Aires but will now be available for the Pumas’ opening game of Rugby World Cup 2023 against England in Marseille on 9 September. DM

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  • Steve Davidson says:

    Two weeks?! Dear heaven that’s ridiculous, particularly on a thug who’s had two red cards for similar infractions over the past two years. And was any comment made about Brace and the TMO’s pathetic reffing? Thought not. These idiots are giving rugby a very bad name. I’m just glad that Mallía won’t get a chance to attack another Bok tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays against the poms in Marseille – their press (while way too accommodating on their own players’ thuggery – ask poor old Jaco Peyper about that!) would certainly be screaming if he did the same to one of their darlings.

  • Wade de Jager de Jager says:

    This is why rugby will never be a truly global sport – the rules are a technical mess and so incapable of being applied consistently. World Rugby’s current primary rule focus is on “player safety” and rightly so. Therefore the tackle rules are now extremely strict for any direct contact of the neck and head – again rightly so (as a school kid we were coached to tackle low but the old rules/refs never truly punished the high tackler – at least now they do). And aerial contests between two players are now equally strictly penalised – especially where a player that is in the air is taken out because he falls on his head/neck.

    But for some inexplicable reason a defender (in this case Mallia) is allowed to jump in the air at full pace, turn his back on the opposing player (and so doing ensure that he is unable to see and control where and how he will hit Williams) and then make direct extremely dangerous contact with Willaim’s head.

    And the refs answer is that is “just rugby” because in the process of knocking out Williams his thigh made grazed the ball so it was a fair charge down!!! How does sort of logic align with World Rugby’s number one priority of “player safety”. Especially direct contact with the head of a player.

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